Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
All rights reserved
Monday 1st September, 2014
21.04 Singapore Time
The indomitable and incomparable Travelling GourmetTM tells you about the rude reception and…
MORE at Raffles Hotel Singapore…
where empty Food and Beverage outlets abound…where the quality and patronage has declined after the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Qatar bought it…
I was at Raffles after a lovely dinner in Szechuan Courtin the Fairmont Hotel just across the road, because I wanted to show an important guest from the UK what Raffles was like…Imagine my Shock and Horror to be confronted by large signs saying, “No Entry unless house guest” and “No Photography”!! A burly Filipino gentleman insisted vehemently, bordering on rudeness, “You cannot go in!” I was displeased! My guest was taken aback at this rude reception. What if I wanted to consider dining in the empty Tiffiin Room or Raffles Grill then??? Only after I insisted on speaking to Massimo Moreschini, the Director of Rooms, was I allowed to enter the Lobby and show my guest around very briefly. When I spoke to Massimo in Italian…at least Massimo, who is of Italian/British ethnicity, had the insightful EQ to kindly and graciously allow me to show my guest around. This short sighted and offensive policy is very foolish and asinine! When guests come, they must be welcomed and perhaps ‘persuaded’ to have a Singapore Sling cocktail or two or three at the Writer’s Bar…Every guest is a potential source of revenue and NOT a confounded nuisance to be told, “GET LOST! BEAT IT! HIT THE ROAD JACK! YOU’RE NOT WELCOME!” The founders of the Raffles would roll over in their graves if they could see what has happened to Raffles! This is the basic precept of ALL 5 star hotels and top restaurants! This is the BASIC concept of Hospitality!
I went to see the reviews on TripAdvisor consulted by millions or travellers worldwide. I found that there are many negative reviews of Raffles Hotel of late There are also many complaints of Raffles Hotel in house guests being given “The 3rd Degree” and rudely interrogated before being allowed to go to their rooms! How perverse and absurd!
I then brought my guest on a tour of the F & B outlets of Raffles Hotel. The independent restaurant called Ujong was DESERTED with no customers. Ujong rented the space from Raffles after the Empire Cafe operated by Raffles failed and closed down. This happened after they jacked up the prices in the Empire Cafe to exorbitant levels! I saw with my own eyes how one of my favourite restaurants went from being a successful well patronised restaurant to a Ghost Town…after the jacking up of the prices to cut-throat levels. See my review ‘Empire Cafe is now a ghost town” The restaurant space was actually offered to my friend, a French Chef who wanted to re-locate his restaurant. However, the rental asked by Raffles was so sky high that he declined the offer to re-locate his established restaurant there. The Bar and Billiard Room that used to do excellent buffets is now only open two nights a week! The Tiffin Room was empty except for about 6 diners at 3 tables. My friend, the Indian Chef was at the buffet counter looking pensive. The Gift Shop was closed. It used to open till 10pm. Avant Garde Doc Cheng Restaurant has closed long ago. The Courtyard was also deserted! The Seah Street Deli also closed to be rented out to an independent restaurant called Halia. The Raffles Culinary Academy has also closed long ago. Seeing is believing! Of late the F & B standard of Raffles has dropped a lot with very poor price to quality ratio, and so of course the patronage has dropped too…
As the wise saying goes:
IT TAKES MONTHS, YEARS TO FIND A CUSTOMER BUT ONLY SECONDS TO LOSE ONE…SOMETIMES FOREVER!
To be brutally frank, which is not my usual style, as The Travelling GourmetTM I am no stranger to luxury Hotels and Restaurants that are much, much finer and much better and more opulent and ueber luxurious when compared to the Raffles, for example, The Cavalieri Roma, the Hotel Gritti in Venice, The Four Seasons George V in Paris, The Hotel de Crillon in Paris, The Danieli in Venice, The Savoy in London, The Ritz in London, the Andaz in London, the incomparable Hotel Sacher in Vienna, the exquisite Four Seasons on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the Sydney Shangri-La, the Royal Hawaiian in Hawaii, Venissa on Mazorbo Island, Burg Al Arab in Dubai, Le Touessrok in Mauritius, La Piroque in Mauritius, Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, The Caravelle in Saigon, Chateau de Saran in Champagne, the Biltmore in Los Angeles and many, many more… This kind of foolish policy and attitude of Raffles is simply appalling!! Ultimately, it is also counter-productive.
L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend a la vertu… 🙂
The link above outlines how the icon of Singapore ended up being owned by Qatar…How can a Singapore icon be owned by non-Singaporeans?????
Incidentally, the government of Qatar has been linked to funding of terrorist organisations like isis…
You probably did not know they have to close some of the public accessible toilets to save electric bills.
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Yes i know. They did that some time ago. It’s pathetic! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
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I agree with you completely!!! Their Food and Beverage outlets are going down the tubes! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
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Thanks for the info! I appreciate it! Cheers! 🙂
Yup. I was asked to leave when I went to see the hotel and maybe get a drink or two. What’s up with the “you’re not welcome unless you are a house guest?” Very stupid indeed!
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Did you check with Massimo Moreschini, the Director of Rooms why there are signs stated – No Entry unless house guest” and “No Photography”!! at the property? I went to the hotel few weeks ago and had a great experience. Slow to judge.
It is their new asinine customer unfriendly policy which goes against all the rules of hospitality and good service! Thank you for your query.
Is it a bald Filipino guy in black suit that approached you? If so, it might be same guy I encountered, and he’s very rude and arrogant.
Anyway, raffles now employed way too much Filipinos, from managerial post-front desk-waiter/waitress (especially in Tiffin Room)- down to even housekeeping. Not being racist, but raffles really lost all the ‘ancient’ feel of old Singapore, having all foreign influence. It totally doesn’t belong to above 5 star hotel as what it claims to be.
Yes, I think it might be the same one.
I agree with you. This kind of policy is so very goondoo (local patois for asinine)! Thank you for sharing! I appreciate it. This is absolutely NOT the way to treat your guests and/or visitors. I have read comments by guests on TripAdvisor who have complained they were “interrogated” when they, as house guests staying in Raffles wanted to return to their rooms!!! How bad is that! The Food and Beverage outlets have also gone down in quality a lot…
Best regards, 🙂
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I want to say a BIG Thank You to all my readers who liked my article on Raffles Hotel Singapore so much it went VIRAL! Thank you, I appreciate it. A Publisher of a well known Food and Wine magazine also came up to me to congratulate me on my article and told me, “Your article on Raffles! You really walloped them!” Friends who used to work for Raffles have also told me that what I wrote is true, and that the Raffles now is a far cry from the Raffles they used to love when they worked there. A good friend from the UK even sent an sms to congratulate me after reading my article and said he preferred the Fullerton to the Raffles. The Manager and staff of a celebrated Italian ristorante also told me how much they liked my article. As the saying goes: Shoot straight and tell the truth. 🙂
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Agree with you that every visitor is a potential source of revenue. 🙂 They should use the visits as an opportunity to invite these visitors to dine, stay or buy stuff at Raffles. Sadly, they don’t have foresight.
I absolutely agree with you! They have no foresight and are foolish…also trying to be too snooty… 🙂
I wholeheartedly agree with you! Went to the hotel to meet a client and my employer on two separate days and the point of meeting was the hotel lobby. On my first visit, the client was late so I waited for her in the lobby – the hotel staff kept badgering and questioning me about my client on whether she’s a hotel guest. One male staff in particular even asked for her name and what’s the interest of our meeting. It made me very annoyed and uncomfortable.. the overall tone was very condescending and interrogative. My second visit was worse – I was early in meeting my employer at the lobby and yet again the staff asked plenty of prying questions. The female receptionist literally gave me a judgemental look from top to bottom and for the rest of the time while I was in the lobby, there’s nothing but cold stares as though telling me to “GET OUT”. I had half the mind that day to send in an email to the management about how ridiculously rude everyone was but I chose to let it go.
This policy is short sighted…Thank you for your very kind and insightful comments! Cheers! 🙂
I was at the lobby waiting for my friend’s arrival. Meanwhile, I was checking out the directory of a gourmet restaurant. After that I went to the counter to make some inquiries. Unexpectantly, the lady at the counter responded reluctantly. A few seconds later, another staff appeared and both of them conversed in their native language (I think its Tagalog), completely oblivious to my presence. I don’t think it is polite of them to do so, because I felt like a fool standing there while they chatted and laughed. I hope the management can do something, like sending their staffs for courses to conduct themselves professionally?
Sadly, nowadays staff training in F & B is lacking…next time you may consider speaking immediately to the Duty Manager. The GM is a nice fellow called Simon Hirst and he has just revamped the Bar & Billiard Room. I hope you have a better experience there if you choose to go again. Thank you for reading my website, I appreciate it! 🙂
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